The head of Japan’s soccer federation, who is also working as the vice chairman of Japan’s Olympic Committee, has tested positive for the coronavirus, he announced in a statement obtained by the Associated Press.
“I have slight fever and pneumonia ... but otherwise I’m doing fine,” Kozo Tashima said in the statement released Tuesday. He also reportedly apologized for possibly infecting others.
Tashima’s diagnosis occurs at a tenuous time for the 2020 Olympics, and should also raise worries about the health of those in contact with him during his recent trip to Europe and the United States less than a week ago.
Olympics leaders firm on holding Games as scheduled
As sports league across the planet — including the NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA, PGA Tour, UFC, English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga and Nippon Professional Baseball — suspend their seasons or call off events, Olympics leaders have been resolute that the Games, scheduled to open on July 24, will proceed as scheduled.
The International Olympic Committee has maintained it won’t even consider the idea of an Olympics without fans in attendance, a measure many leagues will likely take in the summer when play hopefully resumes.
Meanwhile, qualifying events for the Olympics have been postponed, meaning a Games as scheduled would be — at absolute best — a logistical nightmare for all involved. Hours after Tashima’s announcement, FIBA announced it was delaying the draw for the Olympic tournament.
We’ll see if a central figure in the host’s country’s Olympic committee weakens the IOC’s resolve at all.
Did Tashima bring coronavirus to SheBelieves Cup, where USWNT competed?
Per the Associated Press, Tashima visited Europe and the U.S. between Feb. 28 and March 8, then got tested on Saturday after another soccer executive recently seated near him, Serbian soccer association president Slavisa Kokeza, tested positive for COVID-19.
Swiss soccer president Dominique Blanq was also in attendance and has since tested positive.
Tashima’s trip reportedly visited Belfast in Ireland, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, then traveled to the U.S. for women’s soccer events on March 2.
“In Amsterdam and elsewhere in Europe in early March, there was not as much nervousness over the coronavirus as now, and everyone was hugging, shaking hands and exchanging kisses,” Tashima reportedly said in the statement.
What’s unconfirmed is if the events Tashima attended included the middle leg of the 2020 SheBelieves Cup, which coincided with his U.S. visit. The national women’s teams of the United States, Japan, England and Spain all competed in the event between March 5 and 11.
U.S. Soccer issued the following statement to Yahoo Sports’ Caitlin Murray:
“As we gather more information, we do not believe at this time that there was any direct interaction between the president of the Japan Football Association and any player, coach or staff member of the United States Women’s National Team. Presently, no one associated with U.S. Soccer is displaying symptoms, and all players are currently at their homes, dispersed throughout the nation. Our medical staff is contacting the players and all involved, and we will continue to assess the situation closely. The health and safety of all employees with U.S. Soccer is our top priority and we will continue to take all appropriate precautions while continuing to follow CDC guidelines.”
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